A CONSULTANT nurse for public health in Barnsley says new sexually transmitted infection cases may be on the rise in the borough but 'numbers are small'.

Penny Greenwood said figures released here were put together in 2011.

Data shows there were 1,481 new diagnoses of sexually transmitted diseases - a decline on previous years but still higher than the regional average.

Local figures for unintended pregnancy were higher than the national average but as the data is two years old, Penny said it may not reflect the current position.

Under-18 conception rates for Barnsley were 44 per 1,000, which is higher than regional and national rates, but down on previous years. Out of those unintended pregnancies in Barnsley, some 40 per cent led to an abortion.

Penny said it's important to put the figures into context.

She said high levels of unsafe sexual behaviour do contribute to rises in sexually transmitted infections, but other factors are at play.

She added: "For example, provision of better screening and testing has also made a significant difference, by improving the detection of infections and this will have led to an increase in numbers.

"With the agreed approach we are taking, in future, we would expect to see local STIs and unintended pregnancies reducing."